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Soil Erosion Processes Richard A. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Soil Science Department North Carolina State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Soil Erosion Processes Richard A. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Soil Science Department North Carolina State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Soil Erosion Processes Richard A. McLaughlin, Ph.D. Soil Science Department North Carolina State University

2 Water Quality Problems: EPA Ranking Sediment: widespread problems in surface water. Ruins habitat, clogs waterways, fills lakes and reservoirs. Nutrients: cause algal blooms and ultimately oxygen depletion. Yuck. Pathogens: local problems especially on coast. Many sources and no way to tell them apart! Organic Stuff: degrades and robs oxygen. Heavy Metals: biological impacts Pesticides: mostly a private well problem. NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlin

3 Non-Point Pollutant Sources: North Carolina Rivers NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlin

4 But…Construction Sites Have Highest Erosion Rates NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlinSource: US EPA, 1973

5 Erosion: Two Phases n Detachment: individual particles are loosened from the soil mass. –Rainsplash > running water > wind n Transport: water or wind carries the detached particles downslope or downwind. –Flow in rills is the most important. NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlin

6 Factors in Soil Losses n Rainfall: intensity, duration, and energy. n Soil erodibility: texture, structure, organic matter content. n Topography: slope length, steepness. n Surface Condition: vegetation, mulch, bare, etc. n Erosion Control Practices: contours, terraces, silt fences, basins, etc. NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlin

7 Factors in Soil Losses n Rainfall: intensity, duration, and energy. n Soil erodibility: texture, structure, organic matter content. n Topography: slope length, steepness. n Surface Condition: vegetation, mulch, bare, etc. n Erosion Control Practices: contours, terraces, silt fences, basins, etc. NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlin

8 Rainfall Factor n Intensity: the volume of water per unit of time e.g. inches/hour. –Records: 1.23” in 1 minute (MD, 1956), 19” in two hours (WV, 1889), 45” in 3 days (FL, 1950). n Duration: how long the storm lasts. –Norfolk has an average of 603 hours of precipitation/year, or 6.9% of the time. Of that, 12 hours exceed 0.5 in per hour. n Energy: droplet size and velocity. –Heavy rain (0.6”/hr) has 30 times more energy than light rain (0.04”/hr). NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlin

9 24-Hour Rainfall Amounts for a 25-Year Recurrence NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlin

10 Rainfall Erosivity: Duration + Intensity NCSU Soil Science R. A. McLaughlin


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